Venison Italian sausage is a staple in most hunters' freezers. But most of the time it's not homemade. Let's change that! Sausage seasonings are so easy to make and you can adjust the ingredients and quantities to suit your palate. Plus, you can make small batches instead of committing to having a freezer full of one type of sausage. Sound like a plan? Let's get to it!
Why this recipe works:
Making your own sausage seasoning is a great first step to customizing your cooking. It's so much fun to play around with the flavor profiles of different spices and herbs and see how they taste together. The great part about making small batches of sausage is that you can take notes on what you did or didn't like and make improvements for the next batch. This Italian sausage seasoning recipe is one I've been perfecting for years. It has the perfect balance of flavors from the combination of spices and herbs along with the tanginess of some red wine vinegar. Try it out and you'll never want to buy a premade mix again!
- Ground Venison: This recipe uses ground venison but this sausage seasoning will work well with any ground meat - wild game, pork, beef, and even poultry.
- Dried Herbs: This recipe calls for numerous dried herbs and spices. If you have fresh herbs on hand, feel free to use them! You can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried herbs with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Red pepper flakes are what makes Italian sausage spicy (or not). If you like your sausage spicy, add more red pepper flakes. If you don't like it spicy at all, don't add them!
- Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar gives Italian sausage its signature "zing." You can certainly make sausage without it but it enhances the flavor combination of the herbs and spices.
- Lard: Lard is used to cook the sausage in because I used ground venison without any added fat. If your meat has fat ground in, there is no need to add the lard.
- Cast Iron Pan: I prefer to cook sausage in a cast iron pan because it browns it up nicely. But, you can use your favorite cooking skillet as well!
How to make venison Italian sausage:
Making sausage is so easy! All you need are some dried herbs (or fresh) and spices and a pound of ground meat and you're on your way! See below for a few simple steps:
More Easy Ground Venison Recipes:
- Instant Pot Venison Spanish Rice
- Venison Meatball Sub Sandwiches
- Ground Venison Sloppy Joes
- Ground Venison Bulgogi Tacos
Storing sausage seasoning:
If you're like me and only want to make a pound of sausage at a time, it's great to have the seasoning mixture ready to go whenever you want to make it. I like to add all the seasonings to a jar and shake it up until it's well-combined. Then, put simple instructions on the lid of the jar. The seasoning mixture ends up being slightly more than 3 tablespoon needed per pound of meat. Plus, you'll want to add the red wine vinegar when you're making the sausage. Don't add it to the jar! 5 batches of seasoning will fit into an 8 oz jar. And there you have it! Sausage seasoning at the ready.
Bulk Recipe for 8 oz Jar (5 Batches):
- 3 ¾ teaspoon salt
- 3 ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
- 5 teaspoon garlic powder
- 5 teaspoon onion powder
- 5 teaspoon dried basil
- 5 teaspoon paprika
- 5 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 teaspoon ground fennel
- 2 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
Other sausage recipes to try:
Ground sausage is sausage that hasn't been stuffed into a casing. It may also be referred to as loose sausage.
Yes and no. It's not necessary to grind it into the meat but it is necessary to cook the sausage in some type of fat.
Yes! You can make as much or as little as you want if you have the seasoning mix on hand and ready to go!
If you make this recipe, please leave a star rating at the bottom of the page! This provides helpful feedback to me and fellow readers. And if you want more delicious, wild game recipes you can subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Instagram and Pinterest!
Ground Venison Italian Sausage
- 1 lb ground venison (or elk, moose, antelope, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoon lard or bacon fat, for cooking (only needed if your meat doesn't have fat ground in)
- Thaw ground venison in a paper towel-lined bowl in the fridge. This helps remove off flavors and excess liquid from the meat.
- Combine all spices in a small bowl.
- Add spices to ground venison. Drizzle red wine vinegar over meat.
- Mix sausage together with your hands until spices are evenly distributed in the meat.
- Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cooking, preferably overnight to let the flavors marry.
- Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add lard or bacon fat to pan if your meat doesn't have fat ground in.
- Add sausage to pan and spread out in a thin layer. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until browned and crispy (but not burned) on the bottom.
- Flip the meat and break it up into smaller pieces. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Remove from pan and enjoy on its own or as an ingredient for other delicious recipes!
- You can make several batches of the seasoning mixture (without the vinegar) and store it in glass jars for future use. The seasoning mixture ends up being around 3 tablespoon per pound of meat. You can label the jars "Italian Sausage Seasoning. 3 tablespoon per lb + 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar."
- This seasoning mixture can be ground into your venison before freezing if you prefer to have several packages of Italian sausage on hand.
The recipe sounds great. I do not like vinegar, is the red wine vinegar key and not over bearing?
Annie Weisz says
You can certainly try the recipe without the vinegar! But, I don't think it adds a lot of vinegar taste to the meat. It balances out the flavors of the spices.
This recipe look great. I'm planning on using it to make sausage from a Wyoming Pronghorn Antelope. Antelope tend to have what some people call a more "gamey" flavor. Since their diet is high in sage, when I've made breakfast sausage, I've reduced the amount of sage seasoning and it turned out great. With that as background, do you recommend any adjustments to the spices for this recipe?
Annie Weisz says
Thank you! My experience with antelope is that the flavor depends on the animal and how it was handled in the field and processed. I've had very strong-flavored antelope and very mild-flavored. I would taste the meat first before deciding if you need to make any adjustments to the spices. One thing I like to do to remove off-flavors from game meat is to thaw it in a paper towel-lined bowl. The paper towels soak up excess myoglobin and funky flavors hiding in the meat. All of that being said, I've made this recipe with antelope and it turned out great without any adjustments to the recipe. Enjoy!
Thank you for the extra details. I've always prided myself on how I handle and process my game. I wasn't aware of using a paper towel lined bowl to help remove any funky flavors. This will definitely become part of my routine.
Annie Weisz says
That's great! I hope it works well for you!
Everything was great,can u send me the right amounts for a jar of sausage mix. Tks
Annie Weisz says
Thanks for reaching out, John! I added a section with the ingredient amounts for an 8 oz jar. 😊
I have been searching, experimenting, snarling for a few years trying to find a really balanced, flavorful recipe for venison Italian sausage! FINALLY👏🏻👏🏻 And just in time as hunting season is upon us in Georgia! We should be well supplied in the next few days, so I’m delighted to find your page. Thank you for being so thorough in your content! Good hunting!
Annie Weisz says
Thank you so much for your kind words, Diane! I'm so glad you're enjoying your Italian sausage. This recipe is one of my favorites too. I always keep a jar of the seasoning mix on hand!
Loreto and Nicoletta says
Being Italian and all we love making sausage, and you're so right on the seasoning mix. Yours sounds amazing and what a healthy lean choice usung venison!
Well done and I imagine super delish!😋😍🥰
Thank you! I'm glad you approve of the seasoning mix - I've been tweaking the recipe for years!
Homemade is always so much better! I love the flavors all the herbs and spices add to this venison sausage. So delicious!
The seasoning here was perfect - flavorful and a perfect compliment to the venison. Thanks for this genius recipe, cooking venison is always hard
I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe!
This sounds so amazing, we happen to be huge venison sausage fans. Will definitely be trying this recipe.
Amy Casey says
This looks so delicious! I have a family member that loves to hunt so I can't wait to share this recipe.
Thanks for sharing, Amy! I hope they love it!
I had some ground venison in my freezer for months that I didn't know what to do with. I came across this recipe for ground venison Italian sausage and knew I had to try it. I prepared this yesterday and used it as a replacement for the ground beef in my favorite lasagna recipe. It turned out great! It was so flavorful and the spices really helped to cover up some of the gaminess so my kids found it more palatable.
That's awesome! Lasagna is a great use for this sausage!
If adding seasoning when we grind, do we add the red wine vinegar too? We plan to freeze in batches. Thank you! Looking forward to trying this recipe, sounds amazing!
Annie Weisz says
Yes, you can add the red wine vinegar when you make the sausage in bulk. I hope you enjoy the recipe!
I absolutely loved all the spices in this sausage. It was flavored perfectly! I ended up using it in my breakfast burritos with some eggs.
That sounds delicious! I'm so glad you liked the sausage!
Looks delicious! Never knew how easy it was to make your own sausage!
It's SO easy and so much better homemade!
Love the idea of the sausage seasoning. What a great food gift. I love using sausage meat in lots of delicious recipes. This sounds super yummy. A meat lovers dream.
This sausage seasoning makes an excellent gift! It's beautiful and useful!